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DEP Budget Up On Monday – DEP Replies to OLS Questions

The Christie Administration’s proposed FY’ 13 DEP Budget is up before the Assembly Budget Committee on Monday  May 7 at 10 am.

Here is contact info for members of that Committee – be sure to send them cards and letters about your budget concerns (see below for helpful information).

I worked on several budget issues recently and will be posting my own analysis and concerns, but, until then, I thought I’d post the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) questions to DEP and the DEP replies.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a link so must post the entire document. The OLS Question is followed by the DEP reply (and still not yet posted on OLS website) :

1. In the FY 2012 Budget, $6.7 million was appropriated to the DEP to pay for the costs of replanting trees and impacts of the deforestation on municipalities from the New Jersey Turnpike roadway widening project from Interchange 6 to Interchange 9.

  • Question: How much of this money was actually received by the municipalities?  Please provide a breakdown of the amounts paid to each municipality. 

Answer:  During FY 2011, $4.87 million was paid by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority directly to the six municipalities.  Currently the DEP is developing grant agreements that will encumber the FY 2012 funding of $6.7 million from the Global Warming Solutions Fund to the six municipalities.  The chart below provides the specific allocation to each municipality. 

  • Question: In addition, what are the total compensatory amounts each municipality is scheduled to receive, by fiscal year, under its Stipulation of Settlement? 

Answer: The detail of each municipality’s compensation is listed below

2. On May 26, 2011, the Governor announced that New Jersey will become the first state to withdraw by the end of 2011 from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10-state consortium that utilizes a regional carbon cap-and-trade system to curb carbon emissions.

  • Question: How will this decision impact efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) emissions, the DEP’s budget and the funding of clean energy projects by the State?

Answer: New Jersey’s withdrawal from RGGI will not impact efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and will not impact funding of clean energy projects by the State.

RGGI is not effective in reducing GHG emissions and is unlikely to be in the future. 

First, RGGI allowances never worked to change behavior. They did not spur energy producers to choose lower carbon fuels or more efficient production technologies. When RGGI began, the industry projected that the cost of allowances would eventually be as high as $20-30 per ton of emissions, compared with the average 2011 price of less than $2 per ton. The system failed to work as its designers intended it to work.

Second, New Jersey’s carbon emissions are already below the limits for 2020 established in New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act (GWRA), the legislation that permitted participation in RGGI. According to GHG inventory data from 2008, before RGGI was implemented, GHG emissions are down in New Jersey due to increased use of natural gas and decreased use of coal. The market, not RGGI, has created incentives to reduce the use of carbon-based fuels. Preliminary data analysis shows that New Jersey will continue to maintain the 2020 limit through 2020 without participation in RGGI. In addition, DEP will no longer incur the costs associated with administration of the RGGI program.

Third, New Jersey now has laws that provide significant market incentives for power generation from wind, solar, and natural gas, so any benefits that the RGGI tax may have had are miniscule. In fact, since the GWRA was passed, 14 new laws have been passed that all accomplish the goals of promoting clean energy without participation in RGGI. RGGI has not changed behavior and it does not reduce emissions.

The State receives adequate funding from the Societal Benefits Charge (SBC), which funds programs for renewable energy, energy efficiency and ratepayer assistance.  As the Governor stated in his veto message for a bill that would have required the State’s participation in RGGI, “RGGI does nothing more than impose a tax on electricity. Moreover, it creates an unlevel playing field for our resident businesses that must compete from the fourth highest energy cost state in the country.”  Elimination of this duplicative charging program is one step that needed to be taken in controlling energy costs for New Jersey ratepayers.    

3. One of the five goals of the DEP listed in the proposed FY 2013 Budget Overview on page D-101 is “Restoration and Enhanced Protection in Environmentally Overburdened Communities.”  As explained, this involves the development of a new paradigm for the protection of communities overburdened by environmental stresses.

  • Question: What criteria are used to define and select the overburdened communities to be restored/protected?  Please list each specific community thus far identified, any resources expended in that community, the source of those expenditures, and the work performed or funded.  What source and amount of funding will be used in FY 2013 to achieve this goal?  Please specify how this goal will be accomplished and in what time frame.

Answer: As part of DEP’s Goal 3, the Department is developing a new paradigm for protection of environmentally overburdened communities by evaluating multiple source impacts on human health and the environment.  This new paradigm will eventually be incorporated into decision making processes in all programs. DEP will bypass the typical approach of considering only one media’s environmental impact or focusing on pollutants on a stack-by-stack, facility-by-facility or site-by-site basis.  Instead, DEP is developing the Cumulative Impacts Method: a way to integrate data to identify the cumulative environmental impacts from multiple sources on a community, estimate the burden, and compare the impacts on different geographic areas. Since science is not yet able to identify cumulative risks from multimedia impacts, this is not a risk assessment tool, but rather a data screening tool that DEP will use to help identify overburdened communities and the environmental impacts on those communities.

4. A new Parks Management Grants-in-Aid appropriation for “Public Facility Programming” is recommended in the amount of $2.125 million in the proposed budget.

  • Question: Please explain the purpose and justification for this appropriation.  Where and when funds will be spent, and by what process will grantees be selected?  Which public facilities will be affected, and what will be accomplished?

Answer: The FY 2013 budget as proposed by Governor Christie includes a $2.125 million Grants-in-Aid program to support State-owned or federal facilities of statewide or national significance that have been operating with the help of non-profit organizations. The intent of this Grants-in-Aid funding is to allow DEP to partner with non-profit organizations to ensure that New Jersey’s treasures are not abandoned if short-term assistance can help a facility become self-sustaining.  Examples of eligible entities could include the Battleship New Jersey in Camden, Morven Museum and Garden in Princeton and the Old Barracks in Trenton.

In July the DEP will develop a grant application process outlining the specific requirements and defining what specific costs would be eligible for reimbursement.

5. According to program data in the proposed budget, the DEP has 2,741 filled positions for FY 2012 and projects a total of 2,782 filled positions in FY 2013, for a net gain of 41 positions.  22 of these new positions will be for administration and support services.

  • Question: Why is the DEP increasing staff in this area?  What is the justification for these positions?  What are the titles and specific job responsibilities of this staffing increase?

Answer:  The Department is not increasing its staffing level. Overall the Department’s staffing level is dropping slightly when compared to its authorized FTE level in FY 2012.  The filled level of 2,741 reflects only those staff on the payroll at Pay Period #2, not the authorized hiring level. For example, employees on leave would not be included within the 2,741. 

The “increase” to the Department’s Administrative and Support Services area, which includes the Department’s Management and Administration, Communications and Legal Affairs, reflects the shifting of staffing resources through lateral mobility to address key Departmental priorities associated with transformation, including more efficiently serving the public through implementation of the permit coordination initiative, improving customer service, providing greater transparency through expanded communications with constituents, stakeholders and the media, and shifting of other key administrative staff to backfill vacancies in administrative areas in lieu of new hires.

6. Newly recommended budget language on page D-118 of the FY 2013 Budget would appropriate “such sums as are necessary,” subject to the approval of the State budget director, from remediation management and response appropriations supported by the Hazardous Discharge Site Cleanup Fund and the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund, respectively, for “costs associated with the Administration and Support Services program.”  No legislative approval of these appropriations would be required under this language.  The OLS estimates that this language would authorize as much as $34 million in appropriations supported by those two funds to be shifted to the Administration and Support Services program.  This program, recommended for $16.3 million in original appropriations in FY 2013, comprises the Commissioner’s office, central administrative functions such as personnel, payroll, budget and accounting and information technology, and “sets policies and develops short- and long-range plans and strategies” for the department.  A staff complement of 244 is projected for FY 2013, up 22 from FY 2012.

Question: Does the department concur with the OLS estimate of appropriations potentially allocated to the Administration and Support Services program under this language, and if not, what is the correct amount?  What amount does the department estimate will be allocated to the Administration and Support Services program under this language?  Is the language intended to fund only staff and other costs in the program that are exclusively devoted to remediation management and response duties?  If so, why is an open-ended authorization to reallocate funds recommended, rather than an authorization limited in amount and/or based on costs directly related to remediation management and response?  If not, what circumstances or considerations justify the Legislature authorizing such a potentially large expansion of resources for the program?

Answer:  The Department does not agree with the above estimate of appropriations allocated to the Administrative and Support Services program.  The total amount allocated to Administrative and Support Services in FY 2013 is $3,416,000, which includes $2,038,000 in salaries plus applicable fringe and indirect charges.  The language which is proposed is the result of the legislative direction in the FY 2012 Appropriations Act to utilize $767,000 from the Spill Fund to support the Department’s Administrative and Support Services and does not represent an expansion of the program..  The intent of the language is to cover unfunded Administrative and Support Services costs.

7. The southern pine beetle continues to cause extensive damage to the New Jersey Pinelands with a dramatic increase of infestations in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Ocean Counties.  According to the DEP, approximately 70 percent of the outbreaks are taking place on private lands and the infestation is on pace to equal or surpass the estimated 14,000 acres of trees killed in 2010, the worst year on record since the southern pine beetle was first detected in the State.  In response, the DEP announced it is developing a plan to offer financial assistance to municipalities and landowners to address infestation on private lands.

  • Question: Please describe the specific funding, budget, and staff resources that the DEP is utilizing to combat the spread and control of this insect.  Absent resource constraints, what would be the proper budget and staffing levels to sufficiently support this activity?

The specific funding that supports the Department’s Southern Pine Beetle Suppression program includes US Forest Service funding of $235,000 along with an anticipated Federal Grant of $426,000.

Currently the Department has assigned its forestry staff on a part-time basis to address the immediate needs.  This includes 12 FTEs in varying percentages (20% – 80%) along with dedicated hourly staff to remove diseased trees.  The cost of this effort has been approximately $300,000.

In concert with the efforts of the Pinelands Commission and local governments, DEP has adequate resources to address the problem.

  • Question: What type and amount of financial assistance will be provided to municipalities and landowners?

DEP has established a financial assistance program that will allocate approximately $365,000.

Municipal/landowner assistance programs – total for 3 years

USFS Cost-share grants for home/landowners with >5 woodland acres $  90,000

USFS Cost-share grants for municipalities $175,000

USFS Cost-share firewise grants $100,000


8. During the month of August, New Jersey experienced extensive flooding and storm damage throughout the entire State caused by record rainfall amounts and Hurricane Irene.

  • Question: Please explain and provide a breakdown of the cost and budgetary impact this event had upon DEP operations and with regard to cleanup and repairs to damaged facilities and to natural and other resources of the State (parks, forests, coast, beaches, marinas, historic sites, dams, watersheds, shellfish beds, etc.).

Answer: Three storms have impacted DEP in FY 2012:  Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and the October snow storm.  Not only did these storms impact our operating facilities, but the Department provided specific response activities during the height of the flooding with staff from Park Police, Forest Fire, Dam Safety and Flood Control, Water Resources and Compliance and Enforcement.  Overall the Department’s claimed costs exceed $2.5 million, with $2.05 million associated with Hurricane Irene damage and response activities; $163,000 related to storm damages and response activities tied to Tropical Storm Lee and $325,000 in damages connected to the October Snow Storm.  

The detailed expenses by program are listed on Attachment I.

The greatest impact to our facilities (buildings, roads, and bridges) was seen on the D&R Canal, at Wharton State Forest and the Walt Whitman House from Hurricane Irene; at Stokes State Forest and northern New Jersey facilities from Tropical Storm Lee; and the range pens for the game bird hatchery at Rockport Game Farm in Hackettstown from the October snow storm.  The Department’s Site Remediation Program took the lead on the cleanup of contamination from damaged home heating oil tanks after major flooding affected 97 homes on Lake Hiawatha during Hurricane Irene.

  • Question: To what extent were costs claimed and recovered from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)?

Answer:  Of the $2.5 million total in claimed costs for all three events, approximately $1.86 million will be reimbursable from FEMA.  So far the Department has received $4,480 related to the operations of our Communications Center during the Hurricane Irene event.

9. On December 9, 2010 the Governor unveiled a comprehensive Barnegat Bay restoration plan, consisting of 10 key policy provisions, that includes projects to help improve, protect, and maintain the water quality of Barnegat Bay.

  • Question: What are the estimated costs to implement these provisions and the total cost of the plan?  Please provide a breakdown of the specific funding sources and allocations that will be utilized to implement the key policy provisions.

Answer: The Governor’s 10-point plan for restoration of Barnegat Bay has been embraced by the Department of Environmental Protection as a top goal. Detailed information is available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/.  Addressing the issues which have led to a degradation of water quality requires multiple and complex tactics.  Different parts of the Bay experience different levels of impact.  A team of DEP staff have been working on various aspects. 

Following is the breakdown by each of the 10 policy provisions:

1. Close Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant – The State has negotiated and entered into an agreement with Exelon Corporation to cease electric generation operations at the Oyster Creek Generating Station by the end of 2019.  As part of this agreement, Exelon is required to remit an annual payment of $100,000 to conduct research and programs for the protection of the Barnegat Bay ecosystem.  So far during FY 2012, $22,000 has been spent.  The balance will be spent in FY 2013.  

2. Fund Stormwater Runoff Mitigation Projects – The State has identified and prioritized funding for projects designed to address nutrient pollution of Barnegat Bay from stormwater runoff.  In FY 2012, 5 FTE worked on evaluation of projects totaling $17 million that were submitted to the Department.  In FY 2013, $11 million will be expended on 12 distinct projects in the watershed, ranging from retrofit of stormwater basins and using green infrastructure to replace pavement, to street cleaning equipment and a truckwash facility.  The Department has dedicated 2.5 FTE to shepherd these projects through the process and to evaluate additional projects as they become available.

3. Reduce Nutrient Pollution from Fertilizer – On January 5, 2011, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that established the most restrictive standards in the nation for nitrogen content in fertilizer and application rates for use.  The new law establishes a new content standard for fertilizer that will reduce excess nutrient runoff into the Bay by decreasing the total amount of nitrogen in fertilizer and increasing the amount of slow-release nitrogen.  The law also creates a fertilizer application certification program for professional fertilizer applicators, administered by the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University in consultation with the DEP.  The DEP, in consultation with the Barnegat Bay Partnership, key environmental groups, and industry, will continue to provide public education for homeowners on the effects of fertilizer runoff into the Bay.  In FY 2012, the fertilizer certification program was established, and educational materials developed.  Approximately $150,000 was expended by Rutgers. 

4. Require Post-Construction Soil Restoration – On January 5, 2011, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a measure that requires the Secretary of Agriculture and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, through the State Soil Conservation Committee, to propose modifications to the existing soil erosion and sediment control standards.  These standards are being developed. 

5. Acquire Land in the Watershed – Acquiring available, ecologically sensitive lands along Barnegat Bay and its tributaries is a cost-effective and critical measure to prevent development activities that could further degrade the Bay’s water and ecological quality.  More than 2,000 acres have been acquired to date through expenditures of approximately $3.2 million on State Projects and $1.8 million on local projects. The program is on track to preserve 3,000 acres by the end of FY 2013. Funding is through the existing Green Acres program. 

6. Establish a Special Area Management Plan – A Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) will be developed in collaboration with members of the Barnegat Bay Partnership and other planning authorities in the region.  Funding for the SAMP comes from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.  The SAMP will begin with a toolbox of best management practices, ordinances, and water quality improvement projects for mayors to voluntarily adopt and implement, but will customize these tools for specific area types, thus directing the limited municipal resources to activities that have high probability of effectiveness.

7. Adopt More Rigorous Water Quality Standards – After adopting narrative nutrient criteria for coastal waters on December 21, 2010, the DEP and its partners launched a new comprehensive ambient water quality monitoring network in the Barnegat Bay watershed on June 6, 2011.  In FY 2011, $1.7 million was expended on gauging stations and water quality measurements to assess the baseline water quality conditions in the Bay.  An understanding of the quantity of water flowing into and out of the Bay, as well as its circulation within the Bay, is critical to understanding the behavior of the Bay and the movement of pollutants within it. The Department has enlisted 10 partners, including local and county governments, State and Federal agencies, a science high school, a university and other organizations to assist the Department in sample collection and analysis. In FY 2012, $2.6 million was set aside to accomplish the many tasks involved with sampling 12 tributaries and 14 bay stations in a synoptic fashion.  For FY 2013, expenditures of $951,000 are expected.  Funding sources include the Corporate Business Tax, EPA grants under parts 106 and 319 of the Clean Water Act, United States Geological Survey matching funds, and volunteer efforts from the Barnegat Bay Partnership, Ocean County Utilities Authority, Ocean County Health Department, Monmouth University, Pinelands Commission, MATES school, Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, and ReClam the Bay.  At DEP the staffing time dedicated to this project was 6 FTE in FY 2012 and will be 12 FTE in FY 2013. 

8. Educate and Engage the Public – The DEP is implementing a strategy that leverages the media, environmental advocates, and the Barnegat Bay community to educate and engage the public on the impacts of their actions.  Within the Department about 1.5 FTE is spent on various aspects of this strategy, including presentations, press releases, development of educational materials and displays, maintenance of the public information website (http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/), coordination of volunteers, and answering questions from the public. The highest profile example of these activities is the Barnegat Bay Blitz. On October 19, 2011, more than 2,400 volunteers (including DEP Commissioner Martin, other DEP officials and staff) picked up trash and debris in each of the Barnegat Bay watershed’s 37 municipalities. Volunteers came from a wide array of local groups including students, senior citizens, environmentalists, business and local government leaders, and even military personnel from Fort Dix. The 2011 blitz was a major success: volunteers gathered 739 bags of trash and 578 bags of recyclables, plus three 30-yard dumpsters and three dump trucks.  Donations of materials (garbage bags, gloves, dumpsters, etc.) and disposal fees totaled approximately $20,000.  An even bigger Barnegat Bay Blitz is planned for May 9, 2012, with additional sponsors, volunteers, and local involvement.  

9. Fill in the Gaps on Research – The DEP Office of Science has been working with the Science Advisory Board, state universities, the U.S. Geological Survey, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Barnegat Bay Partnership to develop and fund additional research projects that will fill in the data gaps, help address how we improve water quality and advance habitat restoration on the Bay, and establish baseline conditions of the Bay. For FY 2012, $1.2 million was expended in contracts to research institutions, and for FY 2013, another $1.4 million is planned to continue the research projects.  Funding sources include Corporate Business Tax, Spill Fund, a Performance Partnership Grant from EPA (multi-media) and the Safe Drinking Water Fund.  

10. Reduce Water Craft Impacts – Boats and personal watercraft can harm the Bay by damaging submerged aquatic vegetation and disrupting aquatic habitats.  Education, enforcement and research are necessary to comprehensively address the problem. For FY 2012 and FY 2013, an enforcement and education initiative is envisioned which will provide education initially, then warnings and citations eventually, to boaters who do not observe safe and environmentally friendly requirements about distance from shore, speed, or careless or reckless operation of their watercraft.  This effort is led by DEP Park Police and Conservation Officers, with assistance from the New Jersey State Police, Marine Police Bureau, and in concert with the municipal Chiefs of Police within the Barnegat Bay watershed.  This initiative will be conducted during normal business operations, thus minimizing any extra expenditure of funding. Some funds will be expended for educational materials so that people are aware of the regulations that are in place to responsibly operate watercraft on the Bay.

As DEP aggressively implements the Governor’s 10 points, various staff within the Department continue to contribute in additional ways in the course their normal job duties.  Enforcement has been active in identifying sources of pollution and taking necessary steps to mitigate those sources.  The air program has dedicated resources to ensuring that air pollution sources are considered in the modeling inputs for assessing sources of pollution to the Bay and has called attention to the “anti-idling” provisions of the law which prohibit unnecessary idling of watercraft as well as vehicles within the watershed.  The New Jersey Geological Survey has contributed to the science. 

  • Question: What will be the impact on the DEP’s budget and staff resources?

Answer: Programs have leveraged funding from local sources to obtain personnel and operating fund contributions which, when brought together in a single purpose (under a single project plan) can lead to greater insights about necessary steps to improve water quality in the Bay.  The outside resources have not been quantified in this analysis with the exception of the direct contribution of over $1 million from the United States Geological Survey over the two-fiscal-year period. For FY 2011, 2012 and 2013, a total of over $43.5 million is budgeted for Barnegat Bay-related work, with about 17 FTE per year spending time on the project. Of the $43.5 million most is from federal sources and leveraged EIT funding addressing the clean water and stormwater management needs of the Barnegat Bay.  The greatest value of the Barnegat Bay 10-point plan has been to invigorate the citizens living in the watershed to empower them to take part (large or small) in improving the health of the Barnegat Bay. 

10. On May 4, 2011, the DEP implemented the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program.  This program will obtain more accurate and timely recreational fishing data, and will help fisherman and policy makers work together to better account for the contributions and impacts of saltwater anglers on ocean ecosystems and coastal economies.

  • Question: How much did it cost the DEP to implement the program and what are the projected annual operating costs and staff resources needed to administer the registry program for FY 2013 and beyond?

Answer: The development cost of the Registry Program was $123,200, including the initial administrative costs associated with establishing the Administrative Order for the Registry Program, creation of the website and database, and execution of an agreement (MOA) with the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

Salary Costs $54,900

Database Development   57,600

Operating   10,700


The future costs, based on the current program’s design, are estimated to run at $73,600. 

Salary Cost   $42,800

IT Costs   28,800

Operating       2,000


11. On August 18, 2011 the DEP unveiled a comprehensive set of guidelines that revamps and modernizes New Jersey’s inconsistent and outdated policies and fee schedules regarding the leasing of State lands that prevented the State from being fairly compensated for private use of those lands.

  • Question: Have all the guidelines been adopted and implemented?  How much additional revenue has been received in FY 2012, thus far, and what amount is projected for FY 2013?  Where and when will this added revenue be utilized?

Answer: The recommendations outlined in the Interagency State Land Lease Valuation Panel Report pertain to multiple New Jersey State agencies.  The recommendations that fall under the sole jurisdiction of the DEP have been implemented.  Many of the other recommendations that fall under the purview of other agencies or shared responsibility, such as some of the councils or commissions that are related to DEP, have also been implemented.  Most significant among these are changes to the method DEP uses to assess leases of linear corridor projects across State land.  Implementing the recommendations from the report regarding linear projects has resulted in decreased costs and increased revenue for the State of New Jersey for the private use of State land.  As new leases are let and expiring or outdated leases are renewed, the new policy is resulting in significant revenue increases for these linear projects.  Other agencies that have already implemented the recommendations of the interagency panel include Office of the State Treasurer, New Jersey Water Supply Authority, and the New Jersey Tidelands Resource Council.


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